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Mapping the Atmosphere

A map can represent data from an area on a flat surface. The part of our Earth system most frequently mapped is the atmosphere. Weather—the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time—needs constant monitoring because it perpetually changes as weather systems evolve and move.

Awareness of what the weather is and is likely to be has numerous benefits. Weather can be hazardous, causing injuries, death, and loss of property. Weather maps are valuable analytical tools for informing people about current or future conditions.

Mapping Vertical Movements

This activity uses “flubber” to demonstrate the visco-elastic properties of the Earth’s lithosphere and shows isostatic rebound in action.

Mapping Your Soil

The key properties of soil (physical, biological, and chemical) determine recreation, crop production, range, water/erosion conservation, forestry, and engineering uses of the soil. Soil surveys help us understand how soils differ and how they behave under various land management systems. The heart of a soil survey is the soil map showing the spatial distribution and variability of soils on the landscape.

Measure for Measure

Geoscientists use special boats to conduct research at sea. One of these boats is named the JOIDES Resolution (JR). Unlike most oceangoing vessels, the JR has a flat bottom, a 6.4-meter hole in the middle, 12 laboratories, and a derrick towering 67 meters above the waterline! Why? So scientists can sail nearly anywhere in the world to drill for samples of rocks and sediment from below the seafloor. What for? In hopes of discovering clues about Earth's history and structure, life in the deep biosphere, past climate change, earthquakes and natural resources.

Measuring Glacial Retreat

The USGS has been studying glaciers in Glacier National Park since 1850. It is estimated that there were 150 glaciers in the park back then, and when the national park was established in 1910. Today only 25 glaciers remain.

 Scientists go back every year to repeat photographs, as well as to examine the ice and the ecology of the landscape to see how glacial retreat is affecting plant and animal species that live there.

Mineral Electrical Conductivity

People must mine minerals to provide all kinds of materials that we depend on in our lives. The purpose of this activity is to test the conductivity of various minerals with a simple electrical circuit and draw conclusions about which ones would be used in electronics.

Mineral Identification

Learn the characteristics of difference kinds of minerals in this hands on investigative activity.

Model of a Normal Fault

A normal fault occurs when rocks break and move because they are being pulled apart. As the area is stretched, the rocks move along the fault. Each movement causes an earthquake. This model demonstrates how a block of rock is extended by a normal fault.

Modeling an Oil Reserve

Abundant oil and natural gas form only where conditions in the Earth are just right. Doing this investigation will help you understand how geoscientists identify and explore petroleum-rich reserves.

Modeling Earthquake Waves

An earthquake occurs when massive rock layers slide past each other. This motion makes enormous vibrations, which travel from the site of the earthquake in waves. In this activity, you will model how earthquakes move in three dimensions.

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